Stakeholders recommend collaboration, innovation for media sustainability

MEDIA stakeholders have recommended that newsrooms in Nigeria embrace collaboration, innovation and ethical journalism for the sustainability of the industry.

They said this on Saturday, December 9, at the two-day Amplify In-Depth Media  Conference, organised by a group of media organisations, including The International Centre for Investigative Reporting (The ICIR), Woke Soyinka Centre for Investigative Reporting (WSCIJ), and supported by the Mac Arthur Foundation.

The ICIR executive director Dayo Aiyetan, a panelist during one of the sessions, said critical and ethical journalism were key determining factors in ensuring media sustainability.

“Historically, journalism is about critical reporting. The foundation of any journalism is ethics, and I say that around the world, there is a resurgence. In today’s world of fake news, the post-truth era and all that, there is a crisis of confidence, and trust in society.

So it is those media organisations that have their foundation on critical reporting, ethics that will survive,” he said.

He also noted that ethical journalism should be treated as a business to address the issue of financial sustainability within the industry.

“The opportunities for financial sustainability are limited. They have been explored by others abroad, the New York Times, for example, and the Washington Post. They don’t have problems with resources, but it doesn’t come on a platter of gold. You have to work at it. And so, that is why I think that we have to see media work as a business and see our news as a product to sell.”

Noting that restoring public trust in the media was crucial, the vice president of Africa Luminate Group, Toyin Akinniyi, also a panelist, urged the media to put more effort in demanding press freedom.

She said the lack of press freedom in society contributed to the sustainability problem, as, according to him, intimidating journalists makes it impossible for the media businesses to thrive.

“I think the media needs to do more agenda setting for situating the media’s role within a democracy to employ more creative ways to present itself to the public, to restore and rebuild the trust that it desperately needs now.

“We’ve talked a lot about dwindling funding and all of that as a result of social media and the new ways of media distribution. But I think what else we should be looking at is how to restore the public trust in the media,” she added.

She encouraged media organisations to continue exploring collaborations created through donors even after funding ends.

“A funding cycle can end, but the collaborations they have facilitated should not end. I think it behoves media institutions and others within the media ecosystem to ensure that we explore those collaborations and what they can bring,” Akinniyi noted.

    Editor of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Jimeh Saleh also harped on collaboration and the need for media organisations to sustain partnerships beyond funding cycles.

    He stated that investigative reporting could be carried out in local languages to create a wider audience, strengthening the fight against corruption and creating more room for funding.

    Deputy Director of the MacArthur Foundation, Amina Salihu, urged civil society organisations (CSOs) and community members to amplify impactful reports to achieve media sustainability.

    “It is hard to be the one to take the courage, do those hard stories and still have to amplify the stories. Civil society has a role to play. The community whose life story it is also needs to step into the frame and do their part to amplify the story and demand legal action,” she said.

    Ijeoma Opara is a journalist with The ICIR. Reach her via [email protected] or @ije_le on Twitter.

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